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|2015 Top 10 HBCU Recruiting Classes
FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW Ranks the 2015 HBCU FCS Top 10 Recruiting Classes
North Carolina Central Tops Class For The First Time
As has been the case for nine years now, FROM THE PRESS BOX TO PRESS ROW has ranked the top 10 HBCU FCS recruiting classes. The rankings are based on research that we did based upon school releases, local newspaper articles, and recruiting boards.
Special thanks go out to the various beat writers at respective newspapers and to the sports information directors.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. On Twitter @boxtorow on Facebook/box2row or email us at email@example.com.
- North Carolina Central
In his second season as the head football coach at North Carolina Central, Jerry Mack and his staff signed 19 players to National Letters of Intent. Of the 19, 15 are high school players. Eight are from the State of North Carolina. The eight represents a much lower number than the 13 signed last year, but there is no doubt about the quality. The biggest signing in the class is that of three-star running back William Cameron from Southern Durham, who was rated the 33rd best player in the state. He also received an offer from West Virginia. Cameron could have an immediate impact with the graduation of running back Andre Clarke. The Eagles did some recruiting in the high school football rich State of Florida and found more offensive weapons in wide receiver Jack Reed from North Marion in Citra (two-star Rivals, three-star 247Sports) and another Rivals two-star player in running back Torri Cotton from Panama City’s Arnold. Reed had offers from Mississippi, Cincinnati and Kentucky. Despite the bulk of its offensive line returning, the Eagles were thinking future by adding five offensive linemen including Jaylin Barrington from Riverdale, Ga., a two-time first team All-Region 4-AAAA selection and JUCO transfer Tyler Brooks, a two-year starter who won a JUCO national championship and was national championship runner-up in 2014 at Iowa Western. The sleeper in this class is another addition for quarterback Malcolm Bell in wide receiver Jalen Wilkes from Greenville High School in South Carolina. At 6-2, 190, Wilkes has the size and put up some great numbers as a senior catching 82 passes for 1,330 yards and 16 touchdowns.
- North Carolina A&T
Much like last year’s class that also ranked second, there weren’t any players in this class who received recruiting stars. What Rod Broadway and his staff do great is recruit the state well and get guys that fit into their program/scheme. The proof is in the pudding for example when two years ago the Aggies recruited a 5-7 running back from tiny Bunn High School named Tarik Cohen who coming into the 2015 season will be the best running back in HBCU football and is one of the best in FCS. In this class they turned down some guys that had the stars by their names because they weren’t a fit. Thirteen of the 17 recruits played in North Carolina. There are some guys in this class that could come in and contribute right away. One of the gems of the class is defensive back Jalon Bethea a three-year starter at Durham Hillside. Bethea had 14 career interceptions, seven as a senior. The Aggies lose BOXTOROW All-American Donald Mattocks to graduation and Bethea could fill that void. Craig Gailliard of Edsall Ford in Dearborn, Mich. is another guy who could come in and have an immediate impact in the secondary. He was a four-year starter and was first team All-State. The quarterback position could have used a little more consistency last year and while there are a couple of players on the roster behind starter Kwashaun Quick, the Aggies added another quarterback who brings some credentials in Kylil Carter from South Cobb in Austell, Ga. He was a first-team All-State performer and Class 6A Region III Offensive Player of the Year throwing for 2,700 yards and 27 touchdowns and rushing for 1,346 yards and 22 scores while completing 68 percent of his passes for his career. The Aggies get an immediate upgrade at wide receiver (especially with the graduation of Desmond Lawrence) with Minnesota transfer Donovahn Jones. Jones (6-3, 190) started nine games for the Gophers last year and in two seasons amassed 21 receptions for 410 yards. The Aggies added a couple of other big wide receivers in Shawn Barnes (6-4, 180) from Fayetteville’s E.E. Smith and Cameron Moore (6-3, 190) from Pamlico County. Barnes had 45 receptions for 953 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, while Moore had 47 receptions for 1,015 yards and 16 touchdowns. Some offensive line needs were also addressed with the losses of BOXTOROW All-American William Ray Robinson and center Ronald Canty. The Aggies inked offensive linemen Malik Johnson (6-3, 340, Arden, N.C., Christ School), Marcus Pettiford (6-4, 270, Durham, N.C., Hillside HS) and Micah Shaw (6-2, 260, Fayetteville, N.C., Seventy-First HS).
- South Carolina State
South Carolina State has always been in the top five and this year is no different. This was one of the larger classes in recent memory for Buddy Pough and his staff as the Bulldogs signed 29. Sixteen are from the Palmetto State and the Bulldogs continue to recruit heavily in North Carolina, signing seven. Five of the signees participated in the prestigious Shrine Bowl, which pits the best from South Carolina against the best from North Carolina. The quarterback position was hit by a rash of injuries last year and SCSU signed four including a couple of high profile players. David Pindell from Oakland Mills in Maryland is the type of quarterback Pough likes who can run as well as pass. Pindell put up some gaudy numbers compiling 3,371 yards of total offense. He passed for 2,447 yards, completed 67 percent of his passes, rushed for 924 yards and had 44 total touchdowns (23 passing, 21 rushing) on his way to being named Baltimore Sun’s Offensive Player of the Year. He threw only five interceptions and had a quarterback rating of 122.4, way up from the 75.0 he posted as a junior. Pindell also had offers from Kentucky, Buffalo and Syracuse. Marquane Goodman of West Florence is a Rivals two-star recruit, who earlier in the year verbally committed to North Carolina Central. He missed six weeks with a collarbone injury but coming into his senior season was listed as the 26th best prospect in the State of South Carolina and had an offer from Appalachian State. Hunter-Kinard-Tyler versatile players Khaliq Anthony was recruited to SCSU as an athlete, but will be in the mix a quarterback. He could also see some time at receiver but either way he could have an impact on the
program after winning two state titles in his career and accounting for more than 3,500 yards and 48 touchdowns in his senior year. Speaking of
receivers, the Bulldogs added Daquan Benjamin from Hartsville, a potential deep threat, Conyers, Ga. product Kanome Mesh and Charlotte Latin’s Kanyon Tuttle, son of former NFL player Perry Tuttle. The Bulldogs signed a total of five two-star Rivals players including Goodman, Batesburg Leesville defensive tackle Paul McKiever, who had offers from Brown, NC State, Marshall and Wake Forest, offensive lineman Sam Dervil from Miami’s Northwestern and linebacker Christian Young (Hough High School in Cornelius, N.C.). An intriguing Rivals two-star recruit is running back Bishop Ford, also from Hough. Ford rushed for 2,252 yards and 28 touchdowns as a senior. The last time SCSU signed a running back named Ford from a small school was about 10 years ago when they signed Will Ford from Traveler’s Rest. All he did is go on to become the MEAC’s all-time leading rusher.
With Brian Jenkins moving on to Alabama State and with the promotion of Terry Sims to head coach the Wildcat program was able to keep/land some great recruits. Of the 22 recruits, 14 are from the State of Florida. The Wildcats recruited to all positions except linebacker. They even recruited at the quarterback position where incumbent Quentin Williams and sophomore Larry Brihm return. Akevious Williams is a dual-threat and was rated a three-star prospect by 247Sports. While playing at Madison County he was a Class 4A second-team All-State selection after passing for 1,150 yards and 12 touchdowns in his senior season. B-CU had success running the football last year and added a couple of running backs in Jurell Green of Oviedo and Kenny Gant, son of former NFL player Kenny Gant, who prepped at Warner Robbins in Georgia. Green, who had offers from 11 schools including Mississippi State, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida, rushed for 1,151 yards and 16 touchdowns in his senior season. As a senior Gant rushed for 1,371 yards, averaged 7.5 yards per carry and scored 32 touchdowns, 24 of which were on the ground. The Wildcats placed an emphasis on the offensive line and signed two players who have tremendous size and could come play right away including Christian Hughley (6-4, 330) from Griffin, the No. 64 rated offensive lineman in Georgia, and CJ Allen (6-4, 310) of Melbourne Palm Bay.
Head coach Dawson Odums and his staff continues to move up the recruiting charts with this their third class. The Jaguars signed 27 to National Letters of Intent, 14 of those signees from the State of Louisiana. Defensive line was a priority for the Jaguars and they signed nine including Rivals two-star defensive end Jahmal Tillman from Helen Cox in Harvey, La. and Christopher Jones from Franklin High School. Both could contribute immediately. Offensive line was another area that the Jaguars addressed signing two big linemen who could have an immediate impact in Jodeci Harris from Plaquemine (6-7, 310) and Mason Sims (6-4, 315) from Benjamin Mays in Atlanta. With the emergence of BOXTOROW Rookie of the Year quarterback Austin Howard, the Jaguars added Rivals two-star wide receiver Jaquel Gant from Donaldsonville. BOXTOROW All-American Willie Quinn returns as does deep threat Justin Morgan. Gant, who is 6-2, 190, could replace another deep threat in Reggie Travis who has graduated. Gant received offers from a number of schools including Cincinnati, Tulane and Memphis. The class had some other notable players including New Orleans Warren Easton linebacker Calvin Lunkins, a Rivals two-star recruit.
- Florida A&M
Alex Wood was named the head football coach at Florida A&M a few days before Christmas and already his hire has impacted Rattler recruiting. The former running backs coach at Miami – when the Canes won two national championships in the late ‘80’s/early ‘90’s – and his staff recruited strong in the State of Florida with 11 of the 13 signees. The gem of the class is Flanagan star Ryan Stanley. The Rivals three-star product threw for 3,431 yards and 40 touchdowns with only six interceptions in his senior year. He rushed for another 410 yards and 10 touchdowns. Stanley should be able to come in and compete right away for the spot vacated by four-year starter Damien Fleming. A couple of other big signees include Rivals two-star wide receiver Alvin Harper, Jr., a first team All-State performer at Victory Christian Academy who had 69 catches for 1,332 yards and 16 touchdowns, Emilio Gibbs a Rivals two-star linebacker from Miami’s Coral Gables and Rivals two-star defensive back Terry Jefferson, a four-year starter on the nationally ranked No. 1 team in the country Miami’s Booker T. Washington.
- Alcorn State
The BOXTOROW HBCU national champions signed a large class of 27 and had 15 commitments within the first two hours. BOXTOROW Offensive Player of the Year quarterback John Gibbs, Jr. still has one more year left and Jay Hopson and his staff were looking to the future when they signed a pair of Rivals two-star quarterbacks in Rodney English from Mobile Alabama’s Leflore and Deundre Pickett-White from Miami’s Southwest Florida, who had offers from Cincinnati, USF, South Alabama and Marshall. Pickett-White was also rated three stars by ESPN. The Braves defense was stout, but the Braves must replace a couple of players including BOXTOROW All-Americans defensive end Deion Roberson and defensive back Devin Francois. Hopson is high on three Florida products in defensive lineman Bryce Mingo-Bradley of Boyton Beach, a two-star player who had an offer from Wake Forest, American Heritage cornerback Quintin Smith who was rated three stars by 247Sports and had offers from Michigan State and South Florida, and Hallandale defensive back Demetrius Whitehead a Rivals two-star recruit.
- Tennessee State
Head coach Rod Reed and his staff has done a tremendous job recruiting year after year and this was another solid class. The tight end position has been a staple of the Tigers offense, and to that end, TSU went out and signed Mahlon Medley, a three-star recruit from Mallard Creek in Charlotte. Medley caught 49 passes for 538 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. This year he was part of the Mallard Creek team that won the 4-AA North Carolina State Championship. The Tigers were hit hard in the secondary by graduation and in looking for immediate help, signed Ole Miss transfer David Kamara. He played in 14 games in two years for the Rebels and can play safety or corner. Tyler Black from Oakland in Murfreesboro, Tenn. is a Rivals two-star prospect and could see time immediately. The Tigers have to replace BOXTOROW All-Americans cornerback DeAnte “Pop” Saunders and safety Daniel Fitzpatrick. TSU has produced some good offensive linemen, including 2014 NFL draftees Kadeem Edwards (Tampa Bay) and Demetrius Rhaney (St. Louis) as well as Robert Myers who was just invited to the Combine. The Tigers signed five linemen including Iowa State transfer Duaron Williams.
- Norfolk State
Norfolk State first-year head coach Latrell Scott and the Spartans released a very solid recruiting class on National Signing Day. However, the class was small and NSU was flirting with being on the outside of the top 10 looking in. Then on Friday, the Spartans signed George Wahee of Bishop Sullivan Catholic High in Virginia Beach, Va. and that signing solidified their top 10 status. Wahee (6-0, 180) was a first-team Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) All-State Division II and All-Tidewater Conference of Independent Schools (TCIS) selection at both receiver and defensive back as a senior. He led the South Hampton Roads area with 1,105 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches, averaging 32.5 yards per catch on his 34 receptions. He also intercepted six passes, scored twice on special teams returns and was rated a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. What retired head coach Pete Adrian started 10 years ago continues, as of the Spartans’ 13 signees, 12 were from the State of Virginia, four from the Tidewater area. Marcus Taylor from Highland Springs is versatile and could play wide receiver, running back and on special teams. The ESPN two-star recruit has electrifying speed and scored 20 touchdowns as a senior; 10 rushing, six on kick/punt returns and four receiving. He also won four state track championships as a junior (55, 200 and 300 meters and 4x200 relay). The Spartans signed four mid-year transfers in defensive lineman Walter Brantley (6-4, 360), defensive end Cornelius Tyler (6-3, 270) and offensive lineman Craig Rodwell, all from Fork Union Military Academy. ODU transfer running back Gerard Johnson was the second leading rusher for the Monarchs with 493 yards on 100 carries and should contribute immediately.
2014 was a tough year for head coach Connell Maynor – his first at Hampton – as the Pirates finished 3-9. Maynor has won everywhere he’s been so the record did not sit well with him. But he and his staff look to change the Pirates fortunes with a signing class of 20. The obvious big name is former University of Virginia quarterback David Watford who graduated UVA and is eligible to play immediately. He started all 13 games for the Cavaliers in 2013, passing for 2,202 yards and eight touchdowns. He split time at quarterback and wide receiver last year. Hampton signed a couple of Rivals two-star prospects in running back JaReke Chambers from North Rowan in Spencer, N.C. who rushed for over 1,500 yards as a senior and a big offensive lineman in Malik Mackey (6-7, 330) from Atlanta’s Mays. Both could contribute immediately.
BOXTOROW 2014 Recruiting Class